Wednesday, 19 July 2017

West Cork Literary Festival 2017

I will be reading along with other writers in Bantry Library from 5pm Friday 21st July at the final event of the West Cork Literary Festival 2017.  This reading is organised by Denyse Woods, writer-in-residence for Cork County Council Library & Arts Services.  Denyse is working with five writers groups in Bantry, Clonakilty, Cobh, Macroom and Charleville Libraries. 

I attend the writers group in Macroom Library where up to 10 writers meet monthly.  Denyse has brought a focus and structure to the group since getting involved earlier this year.  Each writer brings a unique voice with the majority writing prose.  I have challenged myself to write prose and on Friday will read one piece of prose along with a selection of poems.

I look forward to hearing all of the writers representing these groups.  





Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Ó Bhéal - Weekly Poetry Event - Cork, Ireland

In April 2017 the Ó Bhéal poetry event celebrated it's 10th year running every Monday night with the exception of three Mondays mid winter.   It's home is upstairs at The Long Valley, Winthrop Street, Cork.   The director of Ó Bhéal is Paul Casey who has been at the helm since its inception.

The evening starts from 8:30 pm with a selection of poetry-films followed from 9:30 pm by the Five Word Challenge.  Five words are offered by the audience members (one maximum per person) and heads down for 15 minutes as poets compose their responses.  Afterwards, the mic is open and those that are ready read their poem.  The winning poem is selected by the emcee based on audience response (clapping etc).  The winner reads their poem again and is awarded with a free drink from the bar and a book or two of poems.

After a short break the guest poet(s) are introduced around 10 pm.  This is a great opportunity to hear voices, known and unknown.  It has certainly broadened my knowledge of living poets.  A listing of all guest poets that have read in the past and a look into the future is available on the Ó Bhéal site. Poetry books by guest poets and Ó Bhéal publications are usually available for sale.

Another poetry film or selection of poetry films are shown during the break after the guest poet has read and before the Open Mic kicks off.  Anyone who wishes to read during The Open Mic adds their name to the list during one of the breaks.



At the Open Mic all poets are welcome and supported, whether it is their first time or have been attending for all of the 10 years.  I came to Ó Bhéal for the first time in Feb 2016 and participate in the Five Word Challenge and Open Mic most nights.  I was so pleased to have had my poem selected as the winning piece for the Five Word Challenge on Monday 19th June 2017.  My tipple was a large tonic water, a copy of Five Words, Volume X, [Poems from the 4th Five Words International Poetry Competition and from 50 Five Word challenges April 2016 to April 2017] published by Ó Bhéal Press and 'A Butterfly's Wing' by Vivienne McKechnie, published by Arlen House.  I have just now read her poem 'Empty Nests' and a swing connects us.  The guest poet on Monday night was Jo Slade and I reach for her book 'The Painter's House', published by Salmon Poetry and open the page at 'The Handyman's Daughter' to find 'a different space', a space of emptiness.

The lovely thing about this event is the randomness of who you might meet.  On this Monday night I met Mo Harte from Dublin who had earlier participated in a 'walking backwards with mirrors' event in Cork.

We are fortunate to have this wonderful event open for free or voluntary donation and for those who cannot make it there are recordings available on the Ó Bhéal website of all of the guest poets and the Open Mics.  In addition TG4 spent an evening at Ó Bhéal in 2016, the video of which is available on the Ó Bhéal YouTube channel.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Irish Writers Centre - Mindshift: The Connected Writer at Listowel

On Saturday 17th June 2017 as the hot weather emerged I wondered had I made a mistake.  A few weeks beforehand I had booked a day indoors to attend Mindshift, an event organised by the Irish Writers Centre in association with Listowel Writers Week to be held in Listowel.

I decided to proceed, heading off on the almost two hour journey.  I hit a slippery patch of loose gravel above Taur and my car went for a dance terrifying me in the process.  I knew not to hit the brakes but to hold the steering wheel with fingers, lightly.  I arrived in Listowel to sunshine and smiles and in one piece.

We kicked off on time by having a group photo taken on the steps outside The Seanachaí Centre.  Out of the sun Elizabeth Dunn, Chairperson of Listowel Writers Week introduced the event and welcomed everyone.  Eilish Wren from Listowel Writers Week and staff from The Seanachaí Centre were also in attendance and ever helpful.

The initial part was titled 'Event & festival curators in conversation'.  The panel consisted of Máire Logue [working with Listowel Writers Week for more than 10 years], Dani Gill [Poet and Director of Cúirt 2010-2016], Patrick Cotter [Poet and Director of the Munster Literature Centre] with the conversations ably facilitated by Kate Cunningham of The Irish Writers Centre.

The focus of this section was to present an insight into how events and festivals are curated and writers selected.  Festival organisers are frequently inundated with requests from writers who wish to read.  Some festivals such as the Cork International Poetry Festival do not accept unsolicited submissions.  The key message from the panel is for writers to develop their writing first, to submit and have their work published in well established and respected journals then to build a writing profile and gain experience at reading by attending Open Mic events.

If writers decide to approach a festival with a request to read they should provide a clear outline of: 'what they have done so far', 'what they are doing now', and 'what they want to do at the festival'. They should indicate if their work has a theme and provide details on workshops/retreats they have attended. At the Cork International Poetry Festival a selection of publishers present writers who have featured in their journals - another reason for writers to submit and support journals.  Having a self- published book without having a track record of journal publications is of limited value.  It is preferable to have a collection published by a reputable publisher.   Most of the larger festivals do provide opportunities for emerging writers through Open Mic or introduction and similar events.

The term 'good literary citizen' was referenced by Patrick Cotter - and reiterated by the panel. Relationships do matter, writers need to support other writers by attending events, buying their books and supporting them online.

The panel mentioned that when reading at an event do not exceed the time allotted, stay until everyone has read - whether you are a guest poet or reading at an open mic event.  This advice would also be applicable to musicians participating in jamming sessions.

As we broke for lunch it was good to catch up with some people I met a few weeks earlier at the Listowel Writers Week.  These included Mike Gallagher, John McGrath [who is frequently mistaken for Gabriel Fitzmaurice] and Matt Mooney.  I met with other new faces including Joe Healy [Co. Limerick], Bernadette Ní Riada [Killorglin], Fiona Pilkington [Tipperary] and Brigid Sunderland [Shannon].

After lunch Louise Phillips  [Author of four psychological crime thrillers] gave a most informative talk along with handouts about the modern writer and promoting one's work, social media etiquette and other nuggets of information.  She didn't however divulge the best place to hide a body.  I think we need to read her books to find the answer to that question.

After tea, coffee and a chat Gene Rooney [Professional Actor], took us in hand and had us leaping around like children.  Everyone got stuck in and a reading about radiators proved more interesting than one would imagine.  Gene said that sitting is no gift for readers so we were on our feet for the final hour.  This was an extremely useful and practical session where we came away with tips to help with public speaking - the basic one being to open one's mouth - try putting two fingers one on top of the other between your teeth and you get the idea.  Other tips included:  using eye contact, breathing exercises, asking oneself in preparing for a reading 'what do I want to convey?'  The listener gets one chance to hear and hopefully understand so the reader needs to speak clearly, slowly [unless you are a rapper] and with sufficient volume that they are heard.  A microphone will not help with any of these things except perhaps volume.

After a rewarding and enjoyable day indoors I had not made a mistake as I headed to the sea and Ballybunion for a refreshing dip before the journey home.




Information on Writers Groups, Open Mic events, open submission and other opportunities for writers available at The Irish Writers Centre, Poetry Ireland and Words Ireland.

Open Mic events in Munster include:
Cork City:  ÓBhéalLive Words; Fiction at the Friary - monthly; Spotlight;
County Cork: Hungry Hill Poetry Friday - Castletownbere; Psoken Word, Clonakilty;
Limerick: Stanzas;  On the Nail Literary Gatherings;
Co. Kerry: Bank Holiday Poets' Corner - Tralee; Literary Listowel Readings - Listowel and Poetry in the Park, Listowel - on the second Sunday of each month at 2:30 pm.




Blog (c) Bernadette Gallagher

Monday, 12 June 2017

Poets Abroad - annual poetry reading


Poets Abroad is a group of poets who first met online in 2015 via a poetry workshop facilitated by Kevin Higgins.  Towards the end of the course a number of us said that we would be interested in staying in touch.

The initial group included Eimear Connolly, Leslie Thomas, Dick Edelstein, Julie Gilligan, Audrey Molloy, Frances Browner, Bobbie Sparrow and Bernadette Gallagher.  The name Poets Abroad was suggested by Bernadette and it was adopted.   The idea behind the name was more towards poets walking about in the world.  As it happens a number of the group live in US, Australia, mainland Europe, UK and Ireland.  The group now exceeds 20 writers and we communicate via a private Facebook group set up by Frances Browner, sharing poems, feedback and other material related to poetry.

The first poetry reading was held in Books Upstairs, Dublin in 2016 organised by Bernadette.  The idea grew out of an initial plan to meet Audrey Molloy for coffee on a visit home but after a number of months of planning this turned into a formal poetry reading with Alvy Carragher as the guest poet followed by seven poets from Poets Abroad. Maurice and staff at Books Upstairs were incredibly supportive and the reading was a success and a joyous occasion.  So much so that we have turned it into a yearly event with plans in place up to 2025.




Poets Abroad, Books Upstairs, Dublin 2016 organised by Bernadette Gallagher
[From L to R] Special guest Alvy Carragher, and Poets Abroad poets Leslie Thomas, Bobbie Sparrow,  Iseult Healy, Frances Browner, Audrey Molloy, Dick Edelstein and Bernadette Gallagher.





Poets Abroad, The Model,  Sligo, 2017 organised by Iseult Healy.
Special guest Kevin Higgins [centre] and [From L to R] Poets Abroad poets Leslie Thomas, Iseult Healy, Julie Gilligan, Bobbie Sparrow, Shelley Tracey, Roisín Browne, Frances Browner and Bernadette Gallagher.

Other member of Poets Abroad not mentioned above include:  Giles Turnbull, Deirdre Daly, Barbara DeCoursey Roy, Jo Burns [Jo Erbacher], Mary Heneghan, Karin Molde, Louise Viera, Rosie Barrett, Finn Monahan, Gobnait Kearney, Ellen Davis, Pete O'Neill and Deepa Mardolkar.

Monday, 29 May 2017

'Mind Your Own Business - A seminar on the practical side of being a poet' at Poetry Ireland - Poetry Day - Thursday 27th April 2017

I wrote an initial brief blog on this event but had always intended to write a more detailed article which I include here.


The event included (1) The Alexander Technique by Tomas Hardiman, (2) Jane Clarke sharing her experience and knowledge as a poet and about the business side of writing, (3) Poetry Ireland's Marketing Manager, Muireann Sheahan who imparted some of her knowledge on advertising and publicity, (4) Paul Perry, poet and novelist gave guidance on grant applications and (5) Don Patterson poet and poetry editor at Picador gave an interesting conversational style masterclass on poetry publishing.

(1) The Alexander Technique was introduced by Tomas Hardiman, film-maker and trained teacher in the Alexander Technique. Although I had taken part in Alexander Technique workshops previously I learned and thoroughly enjoyed his talk. He mentioned some well known people who had met with and been helped by the creator of the technique, F.M. Alexander.

One such was Aldous Huxley, 'Huxley had studied many systems of personal development during his life, including the Alexander Technique. He met F. Matthias Alexander, the developer of the Technique, in London in the mid-1930’s. He was already an established author, best known for his 1930 novel, Brave New World. But his poor physical state threatened to end his writing career.' [From Here & Now by Robert Rickover].

Another was George Bernard Shaw ‘Alexander established not only the beginnings of a far reaching science of the apparently involuntary movements we call reflexes, but a technique of correction and self-control which forms a substantial addition to our very slender resources in personal education.’ - George Bernard Shaw, playwright [extract from: http://www.alexandertechnique.com/articles/quotes/ which also includes quotes from many other well known people from all walks of life].

I was particularly interested in his mention of Malcolm Bough who as a runner and teacher of Alexander Technique specialises in using the technique to improve how runners run! As I am currently training for a marathon I could do with every bit of help I can get. An Alexander Technique teacher who specialises in eye sight is Peter Grunwald, creator of the Grunwald Eyebody method.



(2) Jane Clarke, poet, shared some wonderful nuggets. Jane talked about her own experience as a poet. She encouraged us to look beyond our usual audience and to support other poets. A poetry group in the US found Jane's poetry through Christine Murray's Poethead blog which led to Jane being invited over to read. Also a naturalist in Scotland tweeted one of her poems which led to a feature in a Cornish nature magazine.

For the publication of a collection, Jane indicated, one needs to prepare publicity six months to a year in advance. ‘Publishers operate on limited budgets. Don't expect too much – mostly what they can give you is a beautiful book and the imprimatur of their name.’ Contact the marketing person if the publisher has one and ask ‘what can I do? Ask yourself how can I help my publisher? Think of alternative places to publish and don't forget local radio and local papers. Ask yourself ‘whose poet are you’? Who are your different audiences? Approach established and respected journals, keep moving - if you get published by one don't submit to the same one again or at least until a reasonable period of time has elapsed. Establish relationships with your local book shops. Think about where your links are in your own region.

Social media is hugely important and having a website does matter. Take every opportunity - accept invites to read at small readings and submit to local competitions. Marketing starts way before your first collection and you need to think in terms of creating an audience for your next collection. Never assume that the next book will get the same reception as the first.

There are many different roles involved in writing - workshops, competitions, reading, submissions, publicity and administration. Maintain records of your writing and submissions and hold onto reviews and articles.

Jane ended her contribution with this advice: In doing any activity connected with your writing ask yourself - 'Does this nurture my writing'?



(3) Muireann Sheahan, Poetry Ireland's Marketing Manager reiterated what Jane said about publishing and asked ‘What can you do for your publisher’? Think about your brand in terms of reputation, your public image, how you present your work, the cover of your book. She talked about the image created by Haruki Murakami and his ‘moment of inspiration’, available on his website which is well worth a view. When sending images of yourself to a publisher use landscape and high resolution as these are best when reproducing to online sites. She suggested Poetryguy as an example of a site that she felt was well laid out. An online presence can be set up using free applications for example: Squarespace.com, Wix.com, SimpleSite, Wordpress and Google Blogger. Other online options to use include Instagram, YouTube, Vimeo, Soundcloud…. In discussing one’s online presence Muireann talked about the idea of sharing something about your life as a poet, encouraging writers to post something every day, use photos, retweet, share, support and be positive. She suggested that advertising via Facebook was worthwhile.

At some point a writer will be asked or will want to read in public. To prepare for this Muireann suggests that one gets comfortable using a microphone. She mentioned iRigMic as a brand that was reasonable and good quality for connecting to a portable device with easy to use software. Eventbrite is an excellent tool for helping with publicity when preparing or organising a reading event. When sending out a press release keep it realistic. Include relevant information in the first paragraph and include contact details. Think of the bigger picture – is there a particular message you want to communicate? For example, how the book came to be – was it a Murakami moment?

Other sites mentioned by Muireann include wheelercentre.com, Emma Press, impress-books.co.uk, Dedalus, Salmon, Poetry Ireland.

Information on ISBN and ISSN numbers.



(4) Paul Perry shared his knowledge on applying for grants and bursaries. He recommended to use the County and City Councils as a stepping stone before applying to the Arts Council. Information is available on the artscouncil.ie website showing ‘who we funded’ since 2008. Information on bursaries and grants are available on individual County and City Council websites in addition to the Arts Council website.

Information is also available on WordsIreland.



(5) The event came to a close with the Scottish poet and poetry editor at Picador, Don Patterson.
The focus of Don’s talk was on publishing or getting published. He advised that a writer needs another person to edit their work. In preparing a submission he quoted Philip Larkin as saying ‘have a good poem at the start and end and throw the others up in the air’ and arrange accordingly. To read more on this topic - http://www.picador.com/blog/september-2011/anthologise-advice-from-poets-and-anthologists.

If sharing the information here please acknowledge sources.  Blog by Bernadette Gallagher

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Memories from Books Upstairs April 2017

I am off home after a very happy and stimulating few days in Dublin. Poetry Ireland, Words Ireland, Irish Writers Centre, Teddy's ice-cream and walk on East Pier.

Today I spent about three hours in Books Upstairs - leaving lighter and heavier. Looking through some books I came across Gerard Smyth [in person] who had only good words about his recent experience at Ó Bhéal in Cork.  As always it was a pleasure to chat with Maurice before heading up for a bite in the café where I met a fellow writer of poems, Deirdre Daly.

So what's in the bag?  TLS, Bare Hands Anthology, Skylight 47, Literary Review, Level Crossing, Banshee x 2, Gorse, Crannóg, Ciphers CD, Off Duty by Katie Donovan, Mountains for Breakfast by Geraldine Mitchell and a beautiful Selected Poems by A.E.

I think my blog will be quiet for some time...

29th April 2017



Friday, 28 April 2017

Takin the Mic - Irish Writers Centre

Following on from the activities at Poetry Ireland on Poetry Day I attended another event on Friday evening, 28th April - Takin the Mic - at the Irish Writers Centre supported by Words Ireland.

I had planned to attend and listen as the event was fully booked but I was very pleased to have my name added to the waiting list and was able to take the opportunity to read 5 poems.

The wonderful and brilliant Sonya Kelly was guest MC and she also shared some prose and a poem that sent us across the universe in an egg shell.

Arnold Fanning managed proceedings to ensure nobody exceeded the 5 minutes alloted - tinkling his bell as a warning for those who wished to push the boundary.

There was a good cross section of readings. Speaking with people who attended previously, they said that sometimes there are musical contributions too.

Takin the Mic is a good supportive environment for writers to share their work. I will definitely be back.





Thanks to Tom White for taking this photo of me reading.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Collaboration - poetry and visual art

We talked about it from time to time - about a collaboration between the work of my husband, painter John Philip Murray and my poems. We knew it would happen but not sure how it would come about.

John Philip has responded to my poem 'Another Day on Patrick Street'.  This has resulted in a number of pieces, two of which are on exhibition at Uillinn: West Cork Arts Centre - Home (2) - Pen, ink and watercolour on linen and paper.

and Encounter - Ink on linen and paper.

Both picture will be on view at Uillinn: West Cork Arts Centre, Skibbereen from 7pm Friday 28th April 2017.

Another Day on Patrick Street

Crouched beside you
covered by tarpaulin
on a mattress of sorts
in a doorway to somewhere.

You doing a crossword,
young beautiful face – eyes tired
from many sleepless nights.

Your man lying back
up on one arm brimming
with possibility for the future.

Construction engineer, you
a bio-scientist – studies arrested

Thank me for stopping
for a chat.

A chat, you say, is preferable to a euro
any day.


Note: this poem has been recorded (to be available later this year) by the UCD Irish Poetry Archive.

Poetry Day at Poetry Ireland

The day started off promising when, as I was walking from Busárus to Poetry Ireland on Parnell Square, I stopped to scribble down a haiku.....

Haiku for Poetry Day

It does the soul good
Dublin on Poetry Day
All the way from Cork

#connectwithapoem #PoetryDayIRL


Thinking that the event was on in The Writers' Centre - I was sitting having a coffee when I realised I was in the wrong building.

The event kicked off with the Alexander Technique by Tomas Hardiman. We were soon sitting serenely, nicely prepared for a refreshing talk by poet @Jane Clarke who shared some wonderful nuggets.

Jane was followed by Poetry Ireland's Marketing Manager, Muireann Sheahan who imparted some of her knowledge on advertising and publicity. After coffee, bikkies and chat Paul Perry, poet and novelist gave guidance on grant applications. The day came to a conclusion when Don Patterson poet and poetry editor at Picador gave an interesting conversational style masterclass on poetry publishing.

Unfortunately I couldn't stay for the launch of a new collection of poetry by Colette Bryce who was reading alongside her editor, Don Patterson.

Well done to all involved at Poetry Ireland.   Link to a more detailed blog post on this day.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

UCD Irish Poetry Archive

On Monday 10th April I took a train from Cork to Dublin to read eight of my poems as part of the UCD Library #Irish #Poetry#Archive. Recording my poems brought my own mortality to the fore. This was not in a morbid way but as a keen awareness of, as my dad often said, 'we are just passing through'.

https://twitter.com/UCDPoetry/status/855367257706434560

Thanks to Ursula Byrne and her team at UCD Library.
Thanks also to Maurice at Books Upstairs for introducing me to this wonderful archive.


Thursday, 20 April 2017

Ó Bhéal Five Words - Volume X

The tenth anthology of Five Word poems was launched at Ó Bhéal on 10th April 2017.  This publication includes the winning poem from John Baylis and shortlist from the 4th Five Words International Poetry Competition. Other entries have been selected from Monday Five Word Challenges, from April 2016 to April 2017.  I am delighted to have five of my poems included from the Monday Word Challenge.

A big thanks to Paul Casey.


Sunday, 16 April 2017

The Incubator

I am delighted to have my poem 'Animal Republic' in Issue 12 of 'The Incubator' - a beautiful production by Kelly Creighton.

Issue 12 features an interview with Claire Savage, author of Magical Masquerade, and fiction from Nora Shychuk, Mark Kelleher, Susanne Stich, Seán Kenny, Damhnait Monaghan, Sandra Arnold and Eibhlinn McAleer.

This issue's poetry comes from Bernadette Gallagher, Eileen Ní Shuilleabháin, Kathryn Reynolds, Amanda Bell, Paul Perry, Siobhan Campbell, Anne Casey, Edward Lee, Alice Kinsella, Colin Hassard, Jo Burns, Mike Gallagher and Brian Gourley.

https://theincubatorjournal.com/journal/
https://issuu.com/theincubatorjournal/docs/the_incubator._issue_12

Thursday, 30 March 2017

My poem 'Seeds' goes from a hand-stitched chapbook to Instagram!


Thanks to Shane Vaughan for publishing my poem 'Seeds' from the Stanzas Ekphrasia chapbook lovingly hand-stitched ...... to Instagram!



https://www.instagram.com/p/BSHDd1eDdEc/

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Poethead on St. Brigid's Day 2017

Thanks to Christine Murray for including me in her amazing archive of contemporary Irish women poets.  Poethead is a wonderful fountain of poets and translators from Ireland and around the world and I am delighted to be a part of the story.


Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Longlisted for the Cinnamon Press Debut Poetry Collection Prize 2016

I received some lovely news today, the last day of January 2017, that I have been included in the
long-list for the #Cinnamon Press Debut Poetry Collection 2016.

I feel a trip to #Wales is in the offing.

http://www.cinnamonpress.com/index.php/blog/entry/cinnamon-press-debut-poetry-collection-prize-2016


Shannonside Winter Music Festival - Bunratty

I was delighted to be invited to read as a guest poet as part of a group of poets from Ó Bhéal at the 2017 Shannonside Winter Music Festival in Bunratty on Saturday 21st Jan.

We had a nice time listening to a variety of different types of music early and late on Saturday.  The reading itself, on Saturday evening, was well attended with a good number of poets travelling from around the country to participate in the Ó Bhéal 5 Words and Open Mic.

Thanks to @Paul Casey for arranging the reading.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Cork Winter Warmer Poetry Festival

I was delighted to have been invited to read as part of the ÓBhéal Closed Mic at the Cork Winter Warmer Poetry Festival held at the Kino in Cork city in November 2016.  Thanks to Paul Casey for posting the video recording.



Reading at the Closed Mic - Winter Warmer Festival by Ó Bhéal: Cork's Weekly Poetry Event - Photo by Shane Vaughan.